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Early Tide Maps

March 8, 2012

A group of 19th century scientists mapped the world’s tides, making the oceans safer for seafaring.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Science for the public good…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Vaccine research is just one modern example of science conducted for the benefit of society. But the concept of science for the public good has been around since at least the 17th century, according to intellectual historian Laura Snyder of St. John’s University. She says science pioneer Francis Bacon first championed the idea, which was later revived by a group of scientists in 19th century England. For example, they tried to find universal laws of the tides.

LAURA SNYDER (St. John’s University):

Because at that time, information about high tides really was kept secret by harbor masters, and captains of ships needed to know this information in order to safely dock their ships in port.

HIRSHON:

So they asked the public to send in tidal observations from nine different countries, creating a high tide map of most of the coastal regions of the world. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.